Suits: Need advice on tailors in Asia (Chan, July, etc.)

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by il_colonnello, Jan 15, 2009.

  1. il_colonnello

    il_colonnello Senior member

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    Hello everyone!

    I only discovered this forum yesterday. I am tall and also extremely skinny. I have gone through untold dozens of off-the-peg suits where I live (Germany); it's hopeless. Either I can wrap myself twice into coat and trousers, or the sleeves (and everything else) are way too short.

    So I am considering having a suit made by a tailor, all the more so as I am anyway planning a holiday in Asia in the spring. (Sorry, there is just no way I can shell out EUR 3,000+ for a bespoke suit from Savile Row or an Italian tailor.) I've already spent hours ploughing my way through forum posts on this topic. As I understand it, the gist seems to be this (please feel free to correct me if I got any of this wrong, I am a complete beginner in the matter):

    1. For anybody without the means (or not willing) to part with absurd amounts of money on Savile Row, a pretty good value-for-money alternative are the renowned Hong Kong tailors, such as W.W. Chan & Sons, would that be correct? According to Chan's Web site, the average price of a 2-piece suit comes to roughly USD 1,000 including the cloth. Which is already a huge difference.

    2. Alternative no. 1: Bangkok tailors, but not the purely tourist-oriented ones. Some people seem to swear by July Tailor, although someone has pointed out (I think it was on this board) that they don't do "fully canvassed" coats (I have a vague idea of what that means). Are the high-end tailors in Bangkok noticeably less expensive than the best shops in Hong Kong? Is the price difference worth it?

    3. Alternative no. 2: There's also an interesting thread here somewhere on Dung in Saigon. Apparently a complete suit including (good?) cloth comes to about USD 400 there.

    My question is, has anybody had experience with all three? HK, Bangkok, Saigon? How does the less expensive work by Dung compare to the masters in Bangkok and Hongkong?

    Wherever I decide to take my custom, it's going to be my first-ever tailor-made suit and I am very, very worried that it won't come out well for whatever reason (maybe I'm just not built to wear suits to begin with). So at the moment I am leaning toward having it made in Saigon. If it comes out ok, I can still think about where I want to go the next time, and it it doesn't, at least the education only cost me 400 dollars, not 1,000.

    What do you guys think? I appreciate any helpful input! I don't have a very specific image in my mind of what suit I want, except that it should probably be a 3-button. Also, I wouldn't mind if it made me look a little less tall (as I said I am tall and thin.)

    Thanks everyone!
     
  2. Bohdathone

    Bohdathone Senior member

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    Given that Chan does seem to be acknowledged on here as the best you can get at this price point, I would go with one of their suits. Even though it does cost $600 more than a Vietnamese effort, if you were unhappy with the suit from Saigon you probably wouldn't be certain in your own mind whether it's because of your shape or because they didn't do as good a job as they might have. So you'd probably end up back in HK anyway!

    I had a nice suit made for about $600 by a tailor named Bosco in the Prince's Arcade in HK, and could recommend it.

    Would avoid Bangkok for suits as the general standard just doesn't seem high enough. Even following recommendations you're likely to be disappointed - I paid 30,000bht for a suit in a seemingly excellent tailorshop that I've barely worn.

    There is a place that does an excellent line in slimfit shirts though, called World Group, in Charoenkrung Rd, for about $35
     
  3. acidboy

    acidboy Senior member

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    If I were you I wouldn't take a chance on the Thai and Vietnamese tailors and stay with Chan for suits and maybe Jantzen for shirts. Good luck!
     
  4. plhoang

    plhoang Well-Known Member

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    I commissioned a suit from Chan during their NYC visit in November and was absolutely delighted by the result. I was pleased but not blown away by previous experiences with other shops in MTM/ low price bespoke.

    I had a heavyweight/flannel type one button, open quarter peak lapel three-piece done with a Huntsman style. It is by far the best suit I've ever owned. My only complaints were that my request for moderately roped shoulders and surgeon cuffs were somehow overlooked, but they've offered to fix both if I will send them back the jacket. I'm going to wait to have their cutter make tweaks to the pattern when he is here in March and send it back to them after that.

    Perhaps Huntsman would have provided and even better experience, but I find it unlikely that I would find it several times better than what I got from Chan. I am eagerly awaiting Patrick's return in March, at which time I'll be asking him for a multi-suit order. I have found my suitmaker of choice and will be sticking with them for the forseeable future.
     
  5. Spatlese

    Spatlese Senior member

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    I believe the price you mentioned for Chan would be the starting range, and can go up quickly based on the fabric, e.g., last time I checked in November, some H&S cloths were ~$1400, Zegnas could be in the $1600 range, etc.. The Chan regulars here (yfyf, jlibourel, others) who likely have a range of commissions with different fabrics / price points can weigh in on that.

    I am pinching my pennies now for (hopefully) another Chan late this year.
     
  6. lightsaber

    lightsaber Senior member

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    I've done Chan in HK, and I've also done Thailand and S. Korea. I never went to Vietnam.

    I had happy experiences with all three, and found no measurable difference at the more expensive Chan. However, the selection of fabrics at the other two was terrible, so I simply had to order my own fabric and bring it in for them. That narrowed the price gap...

    Also, many/most of the tailors in all of these locales are hacks, and it takes sifting to find the real ones. It also helps to know exactly what you want.

    If I were you, I'd just decide which country I'd rather visit.
     
  7. acidboy

    acidboy Senior member

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    BTW, having gone through a Thai tailor and Hong Kong tailors, I find Hong Kong tailors have a better command of English. I know it might not be a big issue for some, but if you want details to be clearly understood its important the tailor knows what you want to have done.
     
  8. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    As mentioned, I am one of Chan's most satisfied customers in this forum. A starting price point of $1,000 for one of their suits might be a little on the low side. A suit made from VBC 120 or 130 will run about $1,100...and will be a very decent suit, IMO. I have a couple of blazers made of that fabric by Chan, and they have been holding up just fine after 3-4 years of hard use. A suit from one of the better British fabrics shoud be in the $1,400 to $1,500 range. I am talking about 2-piece suits. Figure in an extra $400 or so for a vest if you want a 3-piece.

    I am told told there are some tailors in Bangkok that are the equal of Chan. However, their prices are about the same as Chan's, which goes to show you get what you pay for, by and large.

    I will just say that I have found Chan wonderful people to deal with and can recommend them without qualification.
     
  9. Parker

    Parker Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    You also might consider future clothing orders. If you find a tailor that you like, you'll probably want them to make more items later and you might not be able to travel to Asia each time. I don't know about the others, but the folks at Chan are quite communicative and easy to deal with via email.

    In your case, sounds like custom is the way to go. Are there no good custom tailors in Germany?
     
  10. il_colonnello

    il_colonnello Senior member

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    Thanks a lot everyone for your opinions!

    It seems Chan is the way to go then. I know I want to spend the better part of my holiday in Vietnam (again), but there are inexpensive flights from there to both Thailand and Hong Kong, so I could tack on a few days in one of those places at the end of my holiday. Chan is more convenient in that respect, too, as they seem to be able to do a suit in less than a week if you've made an appointment (whereas e.g. July Tailors in Bangkok by all accounts take around three weeks). Thanks for recommending Bosco; I assume it is this Bosco? I'll be sure to check them out, too.

    By the way, I have looked at a few more threads here where people posted pictures of their Chan suits. I don't recall seeing any though where the slits of the inner pockets are lined with cloth, the way I've seen on many other custom suits. And there was one thread where the poster complained that Chan didn't do sleeves that unbutton. Are these extras that Chan doesn't do in general, or is it just that you have to insist on them specifically?

    In your case, sounds like custom is the way to go. Are there no good custom tailors in Germany?

    I am sorry to say Germany is a bit of a wasteland in that respect. I've found one men's tailor on the Internet who offers custom suits starting from EUR 1.200 (~ USD 1.600), albeit with nationwide measuring and delivery, to be fair. What makes me a little sceptical is that there is no mention of an in-between fitting on his Web site, when everybody seems to agree that at the very least one fitting is required.

    Anybody who has stayed in Germany for any length of time will have noticed that people here - both men and women - generally don't attach as much importance to how they dress. When I'm in London it never ceases to amaze me to see all those employees riding home on the tube wearing shirts with double cuffs and cufflinks. In Germany if you get on the tram in a perfectly ordinary off-the-peg suit, tie and collared shirt, people look at you wondering if you're going to the opera.
    When I worked for SAP as an undergraduate a couple of years ago, there was a young English guy in our department for a few months. He kept coming to work every single day always wearing at least dress shirt and tie, even though everyone else was sitting there in jeans and cotton jumpers...
     
  11. koolhistorian

    koolhistorian Senior member

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    Why do not try Central Europe ? - I saw very good things made in Slovakia (Bratislava), my Romanian tailor is very good, although not very rapid (he is in his 70), the prices are competitive with Asians, even less I might say. You can buy your fabric and find a good tailor somewhere around you, not to travel by air for days!
     
  12. josepidal

    josepidal Senior member

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    Forum member whoppee has had awesome results for someone with a tall, thin frame. He's posted photos before.
     
  13. Svenn

    Svenn Senior member

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    Resurrecting this thread, can it be said then that WW Chan is the best deal in Asia, if not the world, for full-canvassed suits?

    I'd be open to higher-end Bangkok tailors if it wasn't for the fact that someone reported that July lied to them, saying his suit was fully-canvassed when it wasn't. Maybe it wasn't intentional or a language mistake, but I can't afford that kind of tomfoolery fiddle faddle.

    Chan is also good at copying Savile Row styles right? I doubt a tailor in Bangkok would be that sophisticated.
     
  14. acidboy

    acidboy Senior member

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    chan and ah man cheong
     
  15. aj_del

    aj_del Senior member

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    Can someone give the basic rundown on how Chan works ? Or possibly point in the right direction.

    What I am asking is that I am from India and suppose I am in HK for a week and get measured on the 1st day. How long does it take for the fitting ? How many fittings are there ? Do I take another trip to HK at a future date for the fitting. Can Chan get the basted suit ready for a fitting in 7 days so that they can finish it and ship it to India in due course.
     

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